Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Kentucky Derby winner Monarchos.

Photo by AP Photo/ Mark Lennihan

Monarchos Executes Interest-Tweaking Gate Work

Trainer John T. Ward Jr. sent Kentucky Derby (gr. I) winner Monarchos on a five-furlong work from the starting gate at Gulfstream Park Saturday morning.

"We wanted to tweak his interest," said the conditioner. "The track was a little slow and dead but he had a good stride and so far he's been perfect in his training. He's right on schedule and our plans are to run him in the Donn Handicap (gr. I)."

In what Ward said was a "maintenance move," Monarchos completed the five furlongs in 1:02 3/5 under his regular rider, Jorge Chavez. Monarchos went in fractions of :13, :24 4/5, :36 4/5, and :49 2/5 before galloping out six furlongs in 1:15 1/5 and seven-eighths in 1:28 4/5.

"He is a much bigger and stronger horse now than he was last summer," Chavez said. "The track was a little deep but he went very easy this morning. He was very comfortable."

Monarchos last raced in the Belmont Stakes (gr. I) and has been recuperating from a hairline fracture of his right knee.

"When you lay a horse off over six months you have to get an OK from the starting gate," Ward explained. "He broke OK and we don't have to worry about that any more, although I may bring him over and let him stand in the gate a couple of times."

In other possible Donn developments, Rize has been scratched from the Appleton Handicap (gr. IIT) and may now be pointed to the $100,000 Skip Away Handicap (gr. III), a 1 1/16-mile prep for the nine-furlong Donn Handicap.

"I entered him to run on the main track only," trainer Norman Pointer said. "He's won on the turf before but I think he's a better horse on the dirt now. If they don't take it off the grass then I might run him in the Skip Away (Handicap) next week."

Also possible for the Skip Away is 2000 Preakness (gr. I) winner Red Bullet.